As Witherspoon looks towards retirement, students express hope for replacement

Superintendent Eric Witherspoon, who has been the ETHS superintendent for nearly 16 years, recently announced his retirement on Sept. 13, 2021, raising many questions surrounding who his successor will be. Throughout his time at ETHS, Witherspoon has left a significant impact on the community—he has led the school and provided guidance during these recent unprecedented and confusing times while continuing to interact with students on a daily basis. His retirement announcement has left many students feeling worried about the future of ETHS generating many questions and hopes for ETHS’ next superintendent.

Junior Avon Wright is one student who expresses their hopes for ETHS’ next superintendent. They emphasize the importance of having someone dedicated to the student body.

“I want to see someone who actively involves themselves in school activities and supports the students,” Wright says. “I want someone who will listen to the students as much as the staff, and I want someone who genuinely cares about their job and the students as much as Dr. Witherspoon does.” 

Appreciation towards Witherspoon is not uncommon. While expressing his expectations for a new superintendent, junior Luke Flangel describes his respect for Witherspoon and hopes that his successor handles demanding situations similarly.

“In a new superintendent, something I want to see is the ability to make decisions in the face of controversy and pressure. I feel like Dr. Witherspoon does this really well and has had to deal with a lot of controversies in my three years at ETHS, and I definitely want to see those same things in someone new,” he says.

While students hope the new superintendent handles pressurized situations in a collected manner, they also expressed how it’s crucial for the superintendent to create a sense of community.

“I hope the new superintendent continues to interact with students during the day, like before school, during lunch, and after school. Witherspoon is very welcoming and always walks around the hallways and says hi to people, which I feel like can give students a sense of community,” junior Samantha Asaro says.

Other students have expressed a desire to see the new superintendent and upper administration as a whole be more connected and involved with the student body. 

“One of the things I’ve noticed about ETHS is a serious disconnect between students and administration. The one thing I’d like to see is for the superintendent and upper administration to allow students to come to them if necessary rather than just going to teachers. I would like to see more accessibility to administration and students being less afraid of going to administration,” senior Evan Petrolle says. 

The hope to see changes around the administration’s connection with students seems to be a widely spread opinion. Similar to Petrolle, Flangel not only conveys his desire to see interaction between the administration and students but also the opportunity for students to have a bigger role in decision-making at ETHS.

“Some changes I would like to see is the administration [interacting] more with the students. There were a lot of big decisions made in the last two years, and I know students don’t have a say in that stuff typically, but more opportunities for students to voice their opinions would be good,” Flangel says.

While Witherspoon’s time as the superintendent of ETHS is coming to a close, his commitment to the faculty, students, and school set a precedent for his successor. Many students hope the new superintendent possesses similar qualities to him but, more significantly, is also someone who can create a sense of community. Asaro expresses what she believes the important characteristics of a superintendent are.

“Commitment to the students, compassion as well as leadership skills are all crucial characteristics I believe the next superintendent should possess,” Asaro says.

It was recently announced that Marcus Campbell, assistant superintendent of ETHS, is currently the leading candidate for the superintendent position. Hopefully, he can fulfill student expectations and be a superintendent that emphasizes involvement and dedication to the student body.